Friday, March 16, 2018

Lost Corners of the Internet:
Longer excellent tweets

When Twitter officially expanded tweets from 140 characters to 280 characters late last year, I was bitter and cranky and whiny. (In other words, my usual self.) I had believed that 140 characters represented the perfect social-media communication art form — notwithstanding all the "OMG" and "WTF" tweets that spew forth during sporting events, awards shows and social-media-based nuclear brinksmanship between world leaders.

I had spent about 17 percent of my life learning to craft the perfect tweet, right down to the period as the 140th character. Because I'm a writer and editor, and sentences get periods at the end, dammit.

Anyway, it turns out that I'm also unnecessarily alarmist. And my insistent nostalgia for the days of 140-character tweets has transformed into appreciation for what can be done within 280 characters.

But, like everything else on the ephemeral Internet, tweets can be fleeting. Unless you print them out on a sheet of paper and tuck them into a book — and I am guilty of doing this — it's possible we'll get to a point where they are lost to future generations.

So this is my attempt to both show appreciation for a handful of new, long-form tweets that I have come across and to give them a tiny boost toward being saved for history and posterity. For good measure, please print these out and tuck them into your favorite book. Or copy them onto a postcard and mail it to someone.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Today's classifieds for tomorrow's historians and bloggers

The standard approach on this blog is to find things from the past and revisit them here in the present. I wanted to shake things up a little, with gifts from the present for the future.

To that end, I thought it might be cool to list out some of this week's classified advertisements from the newspaper I work for, LNP, in the hopes that someone reading this blog in either printed or digital form in the future might find them interesting. These are from yesterday's (March 14, 2018) edition of LNP.

(Note: The only thing I'm leaving out are the contact phone numbers.)

  • 2017 Fiat 124 Spyder Abarth. Like brand new! Grey. Automatic. Only 1,800 miles!! $23,000.
  • 1993 Buick Roadmaster LTD, 155k mls, 4/19 inps., Priced to fly! $1,895
  • 93 Honda Accord sedan runs/drives well, good local car, needs tires & exhuast [sic] pipe. New battery & rear brakes. $900 OBO
  • 1926 Ford Model T. very good cond., includes orig. manual, maroon, $18k
  • 1924 Model T Touring. excellent condition, complete restoration, runs great. $10,000
  • 1966 Thunder Bird Convertible, very good condition, only serious inquiries. $28,500

  • Labrador Retriever Puppies. Vet Checked and all healthy! M/F Shots & Wormer given. $550.00
  • ACA Ruby Cavalier Pupppies, vet checked, shots, dewormed. Females $1100, Males $1000
  • Cavapoo and Bichpoo Puppies, Vet checked, dewormed, shots UTD, $895 Ready Now
  • Miniature Labradoodles - small, very cute, chocolate, 15 weeks, shots/wormer. $300 OBO
  • Lancaster County Humane League Pet of the Day: Meet Fufu! This pretty girl is a 1 year old spayed female who was brought to the shelter when her previous family no longer had time for her. Fufu is a little unsure about being handled and will need an experienced rabbit owner to continue work on her socialization. She loves being able to hop around outside of her enclosure and explore. Fufu also loves yummy rabbit treats and hay. Does she sound like a good match? Stop in and see her today at the Humane League of Lancaster County.

  • Spiderman hockey table, like new $30
  • Kodak Carousel slide tray, 50¢
  • Roller Hockey Blades nvr usd 9.5 $120
  • Phila Eagles Cuckoo Clock Ex Cond $60
  • 1933 wheat cent low mintage $2
  • 1971 Partridge Family card set $25
  • 2013 Nick Foles jersey card $10
  • Eagles Super Bowl Champs mag $15
  • 6 used Office chairs nice $90
  • BigMouth Billy Bass singing sensation $5
  • 2 pr. Skechers, gd. cond. $30
  • Bon Jovi signed cd-r audio disc, $20
  • Dallas Cowboys suede lthr coat Lg. $25
  • (125) 1964 Beatles cards $100
  • 30+ cookbooks, ex. cond. $15/all
  • (10) Easter bskts., colored eggs, $20
  • 11 Pfaltzgraff tearose cups saucr $6/ea.
  • (4) Nick Foles Eagles rookie cards $8
  • iPad 2 16gb V good no charger $85
  • vinyl big band era record player FREE

Quirky-looking, colorful Ohio motel

This place looks like what you'd get if Howard Johnson's expanded into the Black Forest. (Imagine the cranky gnomes and trolls showing up at the zoning-board hearing for that.) In reality, though, this setting is nothing as magical as Schwarzwald. Instead, it's Ohio.

There's no date of publication on this never-used Plastichrome postcard, by way of Kull Studio, but I'm guessing from the cars that it's the 1960s.

Here's the intriguing information on the back:

Gate 3, Ohio Turnpike
Wauseon, Ohio
(419) 335-5026 — 335-9841

Food, Fuel and Airstrip available. SWISS CHALET
for parties, receptions and conferences.
250 Clinton St. Wauseon, Ohio 43567

We need a Wauseon-area correspondent to let us know if this hotel still exists. My guess is that it does not. If nothing else, some cursory research seems to indicate that it changed hands frequently over the years. Also, I'm not sure if the Swiss Chalet mentioned on the postcard is related to the Canadian-based chain of restaurants that launched in the 1950s.

I did find this newspaper tidbit about a harrowing incident involving Orville Richer on March 30, 1966:
WARDSBORO, Vt. (UPI) — Two Ohio men escaped with scratches Wednesday when they landed their single-engine plane in a pasture, tearing off one wing and damaging the landing gear.

State police said Orville Richer, the pilot, and his passenger Richard Bishop were flying from their home in Wauseon, Ohio, to Sanford, Maine, when they ran low on fuel.

Richer landed the craft in a pasture beside Route 100 near the Wardsboro Elementary School.
I wonder if the fact that Richer was a pilot has anything to do with the fact that "airstrip available" is noted on the postcard. Because that's not normally a thing you look for in a good motel, unless you're living a life of smuggling or espionage.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Prime Philadelphia real estate for sale, 280 years ago

Here's a clipping advertising the sale of some "good brick houses" from the March 14, 1738, edition of The Pennsylvania Gazette, which was co-owned and printed by Benjamin Franklin at that time.

The "Quaker's Burying Ground" that's mentioned is likely the one that's now called the Arch Street Friends Meeting House. Mulberry Street wasn't officially renamed as Arch Street until 1854, but you can see from this news item that things were already trending in that direction.

Monday, March 12, 2018

1963 magazine advertisement for Alaga Syrup

This wholesome advertisement for Alaga Syrup appears in Abe Saperstein's Fabulous Harlem Globetrotters 1963 Yearbook. It's one of the few ads in the magazine that isn't promoting tobacco or liquor. The full-page advertisement touts ways to combine syrup, carbohydrates and meat to bolster your breakfast:

  • Hot waffles with a layer of broiled ham and Alaga
  • Golden brown pancakes and dairy-fresh cottage cheese with Alaga
  • Tasty fried sausage wrapped in buttermilk pancakes with Alaga

(I'll pass on all three of those, thanks. I like to keep things simple. Carbs and syrup, with some butter, is just dandy for me.)

Alaga Syrup, which dubs itself the “Sweetness of the South” has been around for more than 110 years. You can read the whole story on the brand's history page, but here's the short version:
"ALAGA syrup was born out of love, and the 'feeling of family' when a Georgia boy met and married an Alabama girl. ... The company was founded in 1906 as the Alabama-Georgia Syrup Company by Mr. Louis Broughton Whitfield, Sr. ... By this time, Louis had married the love of his life, Willie Vandiver, and it was she who created both the ALAGA name and the logo. She was from Alabama and he was from Georgia, so she combined the abbreviation for Alabama, ALA and the GA for Georgia, and thus ALAGA was born."
Syrup schmoopies! Over the decades, spokespersons for Alaga have included Clark Gable, Willie Mays (see his ads), Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (!), Ernest Hemingway and Bear Bryant.

Today, the company is named Whitfield Foods (though it remains family-owned) and it still strongly ties itself with the Alaga brand. It offers many varieties of syrups and even a hot sauce. A 2014 article by Dawn Kent Azok describes the modern company operations and a bit of its history.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Finding some "fun" in a Sunday
desk cleaning

Because roughly 95 percent of our lives involve assisting entropy, I needed to spend some time today on the other 5 percent — combating it. My desk was a mess, which likely comes as no surprise to the readers of this blog.

So I figured I would at least liven up the work by unscientifically documenting the items that were piled atop the old desk. I hope this doesn't make any of you who are compulsive cleaners itchy, but please consider this sentence as your trigger warning.

Here's the list of Things That Were (past tense!) On My Desk:

  • An old Easter postcard intended for my April 1 Papergreat post
  • 11 writing implements
  • My wallet
  • My great-grandmother's 1910 travel diary
  • 3 comic books I bought this week
  • 16 items that I recycled
  • 10 items that went in the trash
  • 4 books that need to be reshelved
  • 1 "Save the date" wedding notice
  • 13 sheets of blank letter paper, some gold, some yellow
  • A small stack of recent Postcrossing arrivals
  • 2 pieces of junk mail (these also overlap with the recycling tally)
  • 10 pieces of ephemera that I already blogged about and are now in need of forever homes, here or elsewhere (this number does not include already-blogged postcards)
  • DVD of the 1990 version of Hamlet, for Sarah to watch
  • Atari Flashback Portable instruction manual and charger cord
  • A ¾-inch stack of family photos including the alarming one shown at right
  • 11 unused index cards that need to return to their proper spot
  • Ratty envelope full of all my stamps, used for mailing things around the world
  • Small brown spiral notepad that's mostly filled with lists
  • Postcrossing letter from Russia that's full of ephemera
  • 22 postcards that Sarah and I are using as launching pads for our stories
  • One measuring tape
  • 1 large paperclip
  • Sketch book containing, among other things, a drawing of a nude Vincent Price with a tattoo on his buttocks
  • Old-timey photograph, from the York Fair in the 1990s, of me with a shotgun and a bottle of whiskey
  • 2 Valentine's Day cards
  • My LNP work schedule for March 11 through April 7
  • Multiple sheets of return-address labels
  • Dover Youth Shakespeare Academy program for The Tempest
  • An index card with my sister's new address
  • The postcards for the long-neglected Part 2 of a Papergreat Coney Island post from last year
  • OrangeMite Shakespeare Company program for Antony and Cleopatra
  • 1 Story Supply Company notebook, partially used
  • An elaborate and musical Merry Fishmas card
  • Penn State themed "to/from" gift labels
  • A baggie containing a snippet of Coby's fur
  • A description card for my nifty Location Earth dog tag
  • A 3¼-inch tall stack of postcards. So many postcards! Some were already blogged, some are for future blog posts, and some are for mailing.
  • A 2½-inch tall stack of miscellaneous ephemera to consider for future Papergreat posts
  • An old to-do list, dating to last summer, on an index card; scrawled on the back are notes from a weird dream I had
  • And, sadly, a huge stack of Real Life Stuff: Tax paperwork, estate paperwork, bills, and such. I'll dive back into that tomorrow, I say, in my Scarlett voice.

So here's the "after" shot of the desk. Progress has been made and fun has been had. Sounds like a successful Sunday.

The various gradients of dragons

Friday, March 9, 2018

Sci-fi book cover: "Adventures on Other Planets"

  • Title: Adventures on Other Planets
  • Editor: Donald A. Wollheim (1914-1990)
  • Authors: Roger Dee, Robert Moore Williams, Clifford D. Simak, Murray Leinster, A.E. Van Vogt
  • Cover illustrator: Ed Valigursky (1926-2009)
  • Publisher: Ace Books (D-490)
  • Edition: Third printing, 1961
  • Book's first publication: 1955 (The stories were all originally written between 1944 and 1954.)
  • Price: 35 cents (I paid $2.)
  • Pages: 160
  • Format: Paperback
  • Back-cover excerpt: "ALL ABOARD FOR OUTER SPACE! Already man is taking the first steps into space! The artificial satellite you've read about in the papers is but the first exciting step that will open up a universe of wonders. Here's a new science-fiction anthology that presents some of the astounding ADVENTURES ON OTHER PLANETS that may be awaiting us..."
  • First sentence (from Dee's story): The Kornephorian robot-ship came in low over the raging sea.
  • Last sentence (from Van Vogt's story): The Rull-human war was over.
  • Random sentence from middle (Simak's story): "Still cabbage soup," said the Encyclopedia.
  • Goodreads rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
  • Thoughts from cyberspace: On the Pamphlets of Destiny website, Lawrence Burton wrote about his admiration for this book in 2016. Here's an excerpt: "The cover alone was difficult to resist ... Science-fiction as a genre has an unfortunate reputation of tending to peddle the same old crap over and over, particularly work of this vintage, and this collection is as good a refutation of the argument as any. Sure, there are spaceships and aliens and intrepid Earth people setting foot on other planets, but once we're past those basics, there's some truly screwy, unpredictable shit going on in this one." ... Some of Burton's online reviews are available in a print collection that's wonderfully titled Crappy 1970s Paperbacks with Airbrushed Spacecraft on the Covers.